#AtoZChallenge A is for Alone

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The loss of a spouse or partner can be devastating and life altering.

It can also be suffocating. At least for me it was.

While I was in shock and trying to wake up from a nightmare, there were notifications to be made and a service to be planned. Our three adult children and my stepson and his family arrived in quick fashion and split up the work, but they were also in shock and emotional pain too.

My sisters kept the kitchen full of food and made sure everyone ate something, and that everyone had a place to rest at night.

Despite being surrounded by people I love, I still felt alone.

My daughter stayed ten days with me after the rest of the family had to return to their lives. But she also had to get back to life as her husband was deploying soon.

The morning we said goodbye was almost as painful as the morning my husband didn’t wake up.

It wasn’t simply that I was saying goodbye to my baby and was anxious about her returning home safely, but when I walked back inside and closed the door, for the first time in thirty-eight years, I was alone. I crawled up into his favorite recliner and cried for the entire day, believing life couldn’t hurt any worse than it did at that moment.

Of course, I was wrong.

Life doesn’t care about anyone’s personal grief.  The legalities of death have to be dealt with and there are time constraints and deadlines. Over the next few days and weeks,  I had to present legal documents and death certificates to change/remove names to comply with the law. I had to erase a lifetime and restart alone.

I died a little each time I had to remove a copy of the death certificate from my file. But it was a visit to our doctor’s office that sent me over the edge.

I’m sure the receptionist meant no harm or disrespect, but as she updated the file, she asked if I now wanted to be addressed as Ms.

I had a meltdown.

Seriously? You want me to erase any evidence I was ever a Mrs. and that the Mr. is now gone? Why don’t I just wear a sign that says, “ALONE?”

I was a total mess and the office staff went above and beyond that day, assisted by two patients who were “seasoned” widows.

One of the women shared a link to the Kubler-Ross Five Stages of Grief—which I’ve received one-hundred gazillion times—but the other woman had a more salty nature and said after three years as a widow, she was tired of being told her feelings about her new life alone were valid and normal.

I understood her words that day, and they still resonate with me.

We take for granted being married or in relationships, but no one ever misses a chance to remind us we’re alone.

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On May 30, 2019, I lost Dennis, my husband of over thirty-five years. Ten short weeks later on August 18, 2019, I lost my eighty-four-year-old mother. My grief journey has not been an easy one. While we know grief has five stages, there are many situations and feelings some bereaved never get to express, and I’m using my first AtoZ Challenge to say things I’ve never been able to give voice to. I hope you’ll follow my journey.

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Image by chezbeate from Pixabay

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#MarchWritingChallenge – Thank you, Marquessa!

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I must thank Marquessa for hosting the 31-day March Writing Challenge with questions from Alexandra Franzen‘s100 questions to spark conversation and connect.

The questions were all unique, with some being light and fun, and others that were thought-provoking, requiring a face-to-face with the man-in-the-mirror.

But most importantly, the challenge helped me achieve a major accomplishment… writing daily for the first time in almost two years.

Thank you, my friend.

Follow Marquessa’s AtoZChallenge during the month of April as she shares her personal thoughts and insights on the devastating issue of domestic violence.

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Image by RitaE from Pixabay

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#MarchWritingChallenge – Day 31 – What are you most grateful for, right now, in this moment?

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This March Writing Challenge of thirty-one questions is hosted by Marquessa, with questions from Alexandra Franzen‘s100 questions to spark conversation and connect.

All are welcome to join in and a list of the questions can be found here.

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Den and I worked hard to raise our three children to be respectful, grateful, and helpful.

We strayed from that path several times over the years and had many “Why did we have kids?” moments. The teenage years are a penance for everything parents ever did wrong… before becoming parents.

However, we had as many teary, proud mama and papa moments, watching them grow into responsible, caring adults who never missed a chance to help a friend or reach out to someone in need.

But I never thought I’d be the one they reached out to.

I’m the Mom-Beast, the Warden, 5-0, Darth Vader’s mom, the Terminator, and Cruella de Ville… and so many other names my children have given me over that years to describe my protectiveness and fierce nature. But in the spring and summer of 2019, I broke.

However, I wasn’t the only one to experience loss. My children lost their father and maternal grandmother, after losing their paternal grandmother the year before.

But they came together to hold each other up so they could hold me up.

Sometimes I cry when I think of all the flowers and teddy bear deliveries, phone calls, chats and extra doses of love I’ve received from them.

So, I’m most grateful for having  David, Drew, and Lindsey for children because I wouldn’t have made it this far without them. ❤

 

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Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

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#MarchWritingChallenge – Day 30 – What’s your most urgent priority for the rest of the year?

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This March Writing Challenge of thirty-one questions is hosted by Marquessa, with questions from Alexandra Franzen‘s100 questions to spark conversation and connect.

All are welcome to join in and a list of the questions can be found here.

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I no longer do urgent.

I used to have tasks and appointments written in LARGE RED LETTERS with stars and asterisks in my planner that were so urgent to me I’d sit up into the wee hours of the morning to make sure they were completed.

Not anymore.

Grief and loss bring tons of baggage that don’t have to be unpacked in any certain order, but they must be unpacked for one’s own self-care and mental stability.

So far, reflection has been the kindest and most helpful to me. I’ll always have my memories of my husband and my mom, but it isn’t just remembering my life with them, but how precious those times were.

We lived full, busy lives, working and rushing from one family gathering to the next school event.

Did I rush through them? Did I take the time for granted?

I don’t believe I did, but that’s just my perspective.

Life is full of things we must do to continue moving forward to achieve our goals and claim fulfillment or success.

We can rush through with a sense of urgency, never taking time to enjoy the journey, or we can heed the words of poet Robert Lloyd, “slow and steady wins the race.”

 

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Image by David Mark from Pixabay

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#MarchWritingChallenge – Day 29 – What’s the most out-of-character choice you’ve ever made?

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This March Writing Challenge of thirty-one questions is hosted by Marquessa, with questions from Alexandra Franzen‘s100 questions to spark conversation and connect.

All are welcome to join in and a list of the questions can be found here.

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This one is hard, but I’m usually so low-key and pragmatic. I think things threw before making choices… most of the time, so  I’ll have to go with the one of the few times I snapped.

Yep, snapped as in I literally saw red and thought the top of my head was going to explode.

Made a quick trip to the market for diapers when my firstborn was still an infant.

Grabbed a box of diapers and went to the 10 items or less line. There was one woman in front of me and one woman got in line behind me. I was right at the check-out belt with my son in one arm and the diapers in my other hand.

Out of nowhere, this woman rams me in the side with her shopping cart. Remember, there was someone in line BEHIND me, but it was me she rammed.

The quick movements of the lady in front of me kept my son and me upright.

The lady behind me started giving Miss Cart-Rammer hell about running into me.

The woman “sniffed” and said “I didn’t see her.”

It’s hard to give a blow-by-blow, but before I knew it, I’d handed my son to the lady in front of me, grabbed Miss Cart-Rammer’s cart and launched it about five aisles across the front of the store.

Some people applauded. More people laughed. The store manager frowned.

Miss Cart-Rammer stood there with her mouth open wide enough to shove a watermelon down her throat.

I reclaimed my son, thanked both of the ladies in line with me, paid for my diapers and went home.

The store manager never said anything about it, other than anytime after that he saw me in the store, he’d say, “Are we shopping today or juggling shopping carts?” 😀 😀

 

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Image from Google

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#MarchWritingChallenge – Day 28 – Do you have a morning ritual?

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This March Writing Challenge of thirty-one questions is hosted by Marquessa, with questions from Alexandra Franzen‘s100 questions to spark conversation and connect.

All are welcome to join in and a list of the questions can be found here.

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There was a time when I rose at 5 AM every morning, pulled out my color-coded day planner with the pretty stickers, and by 9 AM, I’d accomplished half a day’s work.

I miss those days.

I still get up at 5, but by 9, I’ve only managed to find my glasses, one house slipper and my phone.

And coffee. I’ve had several cups of coffee.

Then I just wait and see how the rest of the day goes.

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Image from Fantasy Dan’s

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#MarchWritingChallenge – Day 27 – Would you rather have a live-in massage therapist, or a live-in chef?

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This March Writing Challenge of thirty-one questions is hosted by Marquessa, with questions from Alexandra Franzen‘s100 questions to spark conversation and connect.

All are welcome to join in and a list of the questions can be found here.

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This is the easiest question so far this month! 😀

Anything I want to eat I can prepare. If I don’t want to cook, Door Dash is on speed dial, so bye-bye, Chef!

But for someone like me with arthritis, osteoarthritis, and Fibromyalgia, a live-in massage therapist is like hitting the Lottery!

I don’t care if they look like Jason Samoa or a Hobbit, just tell me what day they’re arriving! 😀 😀

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Image by Gundula Vogel from Pixabay

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#MarchWritingChallenge – Day 26 – Would you consider yourself an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert?

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This March Writing Challenge of thirty-one questions is hosted by Marquessa, with questions from Alexandra Franzen‘s100 questions to spark conversation and connect.

All are welcome to join in and a list of the questions can be found here.

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I’m an introvert… by choice.

But like Prince T’Challa, when the need arises, I can morph into my superhero suit and become the Social Butterfly!

I’m sure this stems from being born into a super huge family (Mom had 16 siblings, Daddy had eleven, and I grew up with eight of my own) and having to “get along” at numerous family gatherings.

The only person who enjoyed my company more than me is gone, and even before he died, except for meals, we could go 2-3 days without talking, each engaged in our own pursuits. Just sharing the same space was enough.

The pandemic and lock-down life has done a number on many. Folks have posted the walls are closing in on them, they’re sick of their families, and they need to get OUT and be around people.

Self-isolating is not a problem for me. I don’t suffer from cabin fever or feel like I’m drowning in loneliness. If I need to go out, I do, but if there’s a way I can avoid it, I do that too.

Marquessa said in her post, she’d found people exhausting. I have to agree. But I also find them annoying… in a casual, friendly, please-do-not-talk-to-me kind of way. 😀 😀 😀

 

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Image by Mira Cosic from Pixabay

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#MarchWritingChallenge – Day 25 – Where & when do you get your best ideas?

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This March Writing Challenge of thirty-one questions is hosted by Marquessa, with questions from Alexandra Franzen‘s100 questions to spark conversation and connect.

All are welcome to join in and a list of the questions can be found here.

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Ironically, my best ideas, especially writing, come when I’m doing something else creative – cooking.

I’d be hard pressed to think of even one wip that didn’t start in my kitchen.

Consequently, if I’m not cooking, the creative juices aren’t flowing… no pun intended.

However, I have hope. My pantry is stocked, I have a stack of recipes to play with, and at least a dozen wips that need to be finished.

It’s time to cook… and write. 🙂

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twitter.com/kingdemic

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#MarchWritingChallenge – Day 24 – When you see peers / competitors getting things you want, how do you react?

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This March Writing Challenge of thirty-one questions is hosted by Marquessa, with questions from Alexandra Franzen‘s100 questions to spark conversation and connect.

All are welcome to join in and a list of the questions can be found here.

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Life is hard and most accomplishments come with hard work and sacrifice, so I don’t begrudge anyone their successes. I’m genuinely happy for them and have no problem congratulating and supporting them.

I stopped competing with others decades ago. It’s pointless, exhausting and not true competition when parameters are changed or goalposts moved farther away. But if others want to compete, I’m here to cheer them on.

I guess once a cheerleader, always a cheerleader. 🙂

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Gif from GoldenGlobes.com

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